Morning Star

The cloud tops of Venus. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.


Nov 29, 2017

Venus is an electrically active world.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Venus Express was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on November 9, 2005. The spacecraft entered orbit around Venus on April 11, 2006.

One its “surprising” discoveries was electric discharges in the planet’s upper atmosphere. The discovery was completely unexpected, because atmospheric density was thought to prevent the formation of lightning bolts. As Dr. Donald Gurnett, a physicist at the University of Iowa wrote at the time:

“If lightning exists in the Venusian atmosphere, it is either extremely rare, or very different from terrestrial lightning. If terrestrial-like lightning were occurring in the atmosphere of Venus…it would have been easily detectable.”

When the Cassini spacecraft circled Venus on its way to explore the Saturnian system, NASA engineers sent it on a trajectory that flew twice around Venus so that it could receive a “gravity assist” from the planet. During those flybys, Cassini monitored the cloud tops and found no evidence that Earth-like lightning was taking place.

However, Venus Express found low-frequency electromagnetic radiation in bursts lasting fractions of a second. Called “whistlers”, the bursts are considered a sure sign of electrical phenomena. A whistler is an extremely low-frequency electro-acoustic wave that is normally generated by lightning. They are called whistlers because they demonstrate a characteristically decreasing frequency falloff in detection equipment. In some short-wave radio transmissions, the whistle can be heard while tuning between stations.

In a previous Picture of the Day, it was noted that the optical spectrum of Venus resembles a gas discharge tube similar to a neon lamp. Astrophysicists are unable to explain the contradictions that inevitably result when trying to explain the data based on greenhouses and smog, but an electrical explanation covers all the bases. The atmospheric composition of Venus seems to require the presence of intense lightning in order to form the sulfurous compounds that are present. No chemistry on Earth or Venus can explain the depth and density of the sulfuric acid clouds and abundant carbon dioxide.

Venus radiates in the infrared with twice the energy it receives from the Sun, so there must be a source for that heat. Venus has an extremely weak magnetic field and no magnetosphere, but it does possess an ionosphere, so it is an electrically charged body. Its ionospheric charge flow carries electricity from the solar wind, the stream of ions ejected by the Sun, into the Venusian environment. It could be that the planet is constantly charging and discharging in the infrared.

Venus is not really separate from the Sun, but acts as an element in the vast electrical circuit that powers the stars. Plasma discharges in that scenario are not so “unexpected”. The observational data, coupled with ideas put forth by such luminaries as Irving Langmuir and Hannes Alfvén, proves that lightning on Venus was both expected and predicted by Electric Universe advocates.

Stephen Smith

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